Rev. Harrison Goodman, pastor at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio, TX, joins host Rev. Timothy Appel to study Romans 3:21-31.
The tiny conjunction, “but,” makes all the difference. Our works according to the Law cannot make us righteous, but God has manifested His righteousness apart from the Law. This righteousness is seen clearly in the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The entire Old Testament bore witness to Him, and now that He has died and risen, the free gift of God’s righteousness is given through faith to all who believe. Just as there was no distinction in the unrighteousness of all men, so there is no distinction among those for whom Jesus died; He died for all. This justification is a gift, pure and simple; no work of man can add anything to it. Faith trusts, not in itself, but only in Jesus Christ. According to God’s gracious will, He has satisfied the wrath of God by giving His life in place of ours in order to declare us righteous. Our words must be precise here to ensure that we clearly preach that our good works play no role in our salvation. Good works are good, but they do not save. Only Christ saves us. Such exclusive language gives us certainty in what Christ has done and sets us free to uphold the Law rightly, using it to serve our neighbor instead of misusing it in a failed attempt to justify ourselves.
“The Righteousness of God for You” is a mini-series on Sharper Iron that goes through St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Human righteousness cannot save, because all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Only the righteousness of God can bring life and forgiveness to sinners. This is the righteousness that He has fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the righteousness that is revealed in the Gospel, the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. This is the righteousness that is not earned, but is freely given by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Sharper Iron, hosted by Rev. Timothy Appel, looks at the text of Holy Scripture both in its broad context and its narrow detail, all for the sake of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen for sinners. Two pastors engage with God’s Word to sharpen not only their own faith and knowledge, but the faith and knowledge of all who listen.
Sharper Iron is underwritten by Lutheran Church Extension Fund, where your investments help support the work of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Visit lcef.org.
The Righteousness of God Through Faith
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.